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10 Reasons to Travel to Italy in the Off-Season

By The Experts at Homebase Abroad

While many travelers have limited vacation days or are restrained by school schedules and work, those who some have flexibility in their travel plans and can travel in the off-season can enjoy a more authentic experience, no matter where they choose to go.

 

While many travelers have limited vacation days or are restrained by school schedules and work, those who some have flexibility in their travel plans and can travel in the off-season can enjoy a more authentic experience, no matter where they choose to go.

If you're planning a trip to Italy, the off-season has a lot more to offer than just lowered rates for hotels and airlines. Visitors traveling from October through April can enjoy unfettered access to museums and cultural attractions across Italy, along with shorter lines, less crowds, and more time to really enjoy all that this amazing country has to offer. With insider advice from Mara Solomon, founder of award-winning villa vacation company specializing in Italy, Homebase Abroad (www.HomebaseAbroad.coM), we take a look at several advantages of exploring Italy without the hassle of mile-long lines and throngs of tourists.

1. Live Like a Local – One of the best and most rewarding things about travel is immersing oneself in an unfamiliar culture and having an authentic experience, and the best way to do that is to travel when tourist traffic is limited. From November through March, visitors throughout Italy can expect a more local vibe, with less interference from pesky tourists.

2. Seasonal Wine and Harvest Festivals – Italy is a country brimming with festivals, and whether your vice is vino, cured meats, truffles, or cheese, there is a festival to suit your every desire. Chianti is home to an olive harvest each November, and you can discover "Il Mese del Tartufo", or Month of the Truffle, in Umbria towards the end of the month. La Sagra del Tartufo Bianco, also in late November, celebrates the white truffle in one of the most prolific towns for the tasty fungi, San Miniato in Tuscany.

3. See the Camellias Bloom Near Lake Como – The camellia is a flower known for its romantic underpinnings, considered a symbol of eternal devotion amongst lovers. One of the best places to view these superbly beautiful blossoms is Lake Como in March and April. Occasionally, a warm spell during winter can result in an unexpected mid-winter bloom- a beautiful surprise for lovers looking to cozy up along the splendid shores, and a reminder of the gorgeous days to come.

4. Experience Fashion Like a Real Garmento – Italy has long been home to a glamorous and international fashion scene, and menswear in particular has had a long and illustrious history in Florence. Every January, the industry's top names descend on Florence's Fortezza da Basso, a fourteenth-century fortress within the medieval walls of the old city center, for Pitti Uomo, the menswear industry's foremost (and oldest) trade show. The city is electric during the four days of the show (typically the second week in January), with events and installations catering to the international cadre of well-heeled visitors, often seen peacocking around Café Gilli in the Piazza della Republica.

5. Authentic Encounters – With less tourists and more time to sit, relax, and enjoy, off-season sojourners can expect to have more personal time with the locals. Visitors enjoy locally-sourced farm-to-table fruits and vegetables, and order from an Italian-only menu. Markets that are typically flooded with tourists during the heavier travel months become much more genuine during the off-season, populated by locals eager to enjoy the bounty of their beautiful and diverse terrain.

6. Intimate Vineyards – Vineyards can be overrun in the summer months, with thirsty travelers yearning for a glass of wine harvested in the very fields in which they stand. During the off-season however, there is a decent chance you'll have a one-on-one encounter with the purveyors of mostly family-run establishments. These are great excuses to explore the history of each vineyard, as most operators are happy to share their family's legacy with anyone interested in asking. Insider Tip: Travel in late September and October for harvest time, when you can enjoy the very best of what wine country has to offer.

7. Theater Season – Wonderful theaters adorn the country. Whether in Venice or Naples, the theater season begins when the tourist mobs wane. Catch a seasonal show at La Fenice in Venice, or enjoy the historical environs in the Teatro Valle in Rome. Christmas shows usually begin in the first week of December, and continue through the Epiphany on January 6th.

8. Enjoy an Extended Holiday - With gifts exchanged throughout Italy on the old holiday, Western visitors are able to enjoy another week of Christmas festivities even after theirs have passed back home. In lieu of enduring bitter temperatures and long, dark workdays with no holiday breaks in sight, escape to Italy and...

9. ... Experience Christmas as it Used to Be – Far from the throngs of shoppers along Madison and 5th Avenues, amongst the gaudy lights and incessant barrage of commercials, bargains, and ploys, Italy at the holidays reminds all of us what the celebration is all about. Typically, simple white light installations, in the form of hanging balls in Rome for instance, awash the centuries-old walkways and corridors of the ancient towns in soft light imbuing them with a romantic allure and peaceful resonance. Cathedrals and basilicas are festively adorned with floral bouquets and candlelight. For Americans exhausted by incessant capitalism, decamping to the quiet, utopian alleyways of the Old World can be a much-needed respite from the never-ending inundation of commercialism.

10. Get a Better Deal – Of course, the major benefit of traveling off-season is lowered pricing. From airplane flights to intercity tour guides, off-season finds reduced rates and accessibility not often found during peak season. So why not save a couple hundred bucks and encounter a more subtle, intimate Italy, one that vibrates with a tangible verve of holiday happiness?